Yesterday I was driving through the pretty, Spring-infused northern suburbs of Johannesburg and thinking that it had been a long time since I’d heard of any hijackings or armed robberies and how nice it was that they seemed to be on the decrease. As I meandered through the tranquil, roads of Saxonwold though, I became aware of a police helicopter circling insistently almost directly above me. It was quite fascinating to watch and I was so intent on it that I was almost past the small commotion on the left of the road before I realised it was there: Two cars with doors flung wide, a group of concerned-looking people who seemed to have come off a residential building site, an armed guard with gun drawn and someone lying on the side of the road receiving attention. As I turned the corner I heard the wail of an ambulance and hoped it was heading that way.
I had hardly arrived home when I had a call from a friend who told me that a mutual acquaintance of ours had been robbed in what seemed to have been a botched hijacking last Thursday. She had drawn money at an ATM and was presumably followed through several suburbs before being attacked when she got out of her car at a shop. She lost her handbag and all its contents but fortunately the shot which was fired missed her. I know the shopping centre where she’d drawn the money well. It’s the one with posters placed at strategic points throughout the parking garage and all the way down the ramps, warning us to be aware of who might be following us and giving the numbers to call should we feel threatened.
It was a disillusioning day; instead of Spring bringing new beginnings, it seems to be bringing back some of the past.